There’s a two-episode Great British Baking Show holiday special available to watch on Netflix right now, and yes, it’s also holiday cookie season. But don’t watch it for inspiration for your own baking projects. Just watch because it’s such pure delight. It’s a winter wonderland of sugar, spice, and good cheer, with no kitchen chaos to clean up after.
The baked goods are both beautiful and complicated—a tricky stacked Scandinavian biscuit tree, delicate mince pies, and a truly bonkers sugar-snow-globe-topped showstopper of a cake are all in the mix. The show’s producers managed to get judge Paul Hollywood into a Christmas sweater. And for GBBS superfans, the real pleasure will come from the return of familiar faces. It’s the platonic ideal of heading home for the holidays, without the bickering.
This new holiday special takes place under the famous tent where the competition is held, made festive with pine boughs and twinkling lights. Pastel stand mixers and refrigerators have been replaced with appliances in bright reds and greens. In each of the two episodes, four bakers from past seasons return to complete in a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a “showstopper.” One baker is crowned the star baker.
In the US, the only GBBS holiday content to date has been three Christmas-themed episodes of Great British Baking Show Masterclass, in which Hollywood and former fellow judge Mary Berry share their favorite family recipes for holiday baking (and sip considerable quantities of sherry). In this special, though, the stakes are even lower than usual—there are truly no losers. Instead, bakers who had in the past been defeated by chocolate mousse or failed at short crust pastry get a Christmas miracle: another go-round to get it right.
“What is magical is that each one of them, coming back into the tent, has had a particular kind of triumph,” says host Sandi Toksvig at one point.
Indeed, so long as you enjoy watching skilled bakers agonize over rolling a thin sheet of cake into bûches de Noël, or fuss over meringue mushrooms, everyone comes out a winner. Unlike at most holiday get-togethers, there are no meltdowns or freakouts. The only tears are tears of joy.
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